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Calm and Confident: Why Penn State Wrestling’s Aaron Brooks Doesn’t Look Like a True Freshman

on February 13, 2020 9:17 AM

Penn State wrestling true freshman 184-pounder Aaron Brooks has shown promising signs during his short career as a Nittany Lion thus far.

The Hagerstown native is a four-time Maryland state champion and was named the 2018 National High School Coaches Association Wrestler of the Year. He also won a Cadet gold and Junior World silver medal before coming to Happy Valley.

Since burning his redshirt earlier this year, Brooks has solidified himself as a rising star for Penn State. He is currently ranked number No. 6 in the country and has a record of 10-1. The key to his early success as a Nittany Lion is staying calm.

“Once you’re out there, you realize it’s just a wrestling mat and you gotta just embrace it,” said Brooks.

Before coming to Penn State, Brooks trained at the Olympic Center in Colorado Springs to pursue his dream of becoming an Olympic champion. His decision to train in Colorado has given him a lot of experience that many first-year college wrestlers don’t have.

“I think it’s just maturity level,” said Brooks. “I am used to being on my own. I know what I have to do and what I’m here for.”

In a room full of older and well-composed wrestlers like Mark Hall, Vincenzo Joseph and Nick Lee, Brooks might be the most level-headed of them all, according to coach Cael Sanderson.

Brooks has also said that Lee has given him some good advice throughout the year on how to stay focused and composed.

“He told me I just gotta relax,” Brooks said. “A lot of these guys are just gonna come out and try to squeeze you, so he tells me to just relax and let them wear themselves out and things will open up.”

Brooks has already competed in front of arguably the toughest crowd in the country at Iowa's Carver-Hawkeye Arena this year. In that match, he beat No. 9 Abe Assad 7-3 in what was a pivotal bout for the team score at the time. This Saturday night, the freshman’s mental toughness will be tested again when he wrestles in front of more than 15,000 fans at the Bryce Jordan Center against No. 3 Ohio State.

Brooks has never wrestled in the Bryce Jordan Center, but he is ready to embrace the big stage.

“When you’re in front of a big crowd, you gotta realize they are here to see you,” he said. “So let’s go out and put on a show.”

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